Bad Marketing Is Worse Than No Marketing, But Maybe Not Everyone Believes This?

“I’m going to let this go because I really don’t want to get into an argument with these people.”

I said that out loud to myself the other day after finding a webpage that had the most forked-up mismatched inconsistent product marketing I’ve seen in a long time.

It stunned me with its ugly.

To wit, there were words written arbitrarily starting with either upper or lower case letters, for no discernible reason.  There were at least 5 different uncoordinated fonts used in garish multi-colored logos that looked like a D+ 7th grade student had made them.  And the information I needed was buried in wordy, pointless copy.

As a woman with a background in communication + marketing who worked at one time as a paralegal who did oodles of proofreading, the mess this organization was trying to get away with appalled me.  As if clarity in written and graphic design communication meant nothing.

There was a time when I’d have taken this as a personal insult, feeling a need to correct the situation by calling/writing about this failed attempt to create a professional image in the world. And while I could have helped this organization up their game to the next level, you know what– I did nothing.

Because this is not my problem per se.

I only share this here today because it irritated me.  Something like this is disheartening for anyone like me who believes in the illuminating power of words and the clarifying potential of images.

And makes me wonder how it is that any organization in today’s connected world can exist with bad marketing.  ‘Cause I’m not the only one who is going to see this and think poorly of them.

Or am I?

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Pleasantly crazy. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Wordy.

99 thoughts on “Bad Marketing Is Worse Than No Marketing, But Maybe Not Everyone Believes This?”

    1. rivergirl1211, you are right. I don’t care what becomes of them, but cannot understand how any organization would be so clueless about good marketing. It’s seems obvious to me. 🙄

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  1. Well, it got your attention. If that was the intent, it worked. As for selling you something though . . . not sure.

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  2. The present grasp on the English language is disappointing. There is no pride anymore in speaking and writing properly. I feel much like you do, frustrated but usually do nothing. I find it falls on deaf ears.

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    1. Andrew, exactly! As my SIL says: you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. I could help, but if they’re not going to acknowledge a problem then I won’t bother anymore. Fail at your business, see if I care.

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        1. Laughing out loud. Well, if you do so do I. And just about everyone who reads this blog. Honestly, people try to diminish clear communication because it drives them nutso that they can’t do it. IMHO.

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  3. Arggghh, it happens too frequently … makes me wonder if language is going to hell in a hand basket. Especially when something is being advertised. I mean to say who on earth who purchase a product poorly plotted, planned & presented with (s)pelling terrors – I mean errors ..

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    1. Susan, good comment– made me giggle. I wonder about the decline in language, too. I’m hardly a fussy person when talking with someone in real life, but online your image is everything. Wouldn’t you want it to be an articulate one? 🤔

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  4. I often see typos and spelling/grammatical errors on websites. They do tend to stick out like dog’s balls, (please excuse the expression). It does convey the wrong impression but with language being so dynamic, the question I ask is, in years to come, will anyone care so much? We are shortening words to single letters every day. Will language become minimal?

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    1. Forestwood, good questions to ask. I have no problem with people in real life [or in the personal blogging world] making language mistakes, but I think that when a company’s image is online then clarity is vital. Of course, with all the acronyms we’re expected to understand and with all the *clever* ways in which normal words are misspelled for *emphasis* language may be going in, what I’d say is, the wrong direction. 🤨

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  5. Short attention span messages and flashy colors rule the day. When I worked we had an IT guy who set up our HR website. It was an employee portal and he put every pop and flash he could find on it. He left before it was completed and the first thing I did was get rid of pop and flash. I don’t know what advertising makes the millennials buy, but I know that I’m not the marketing target audience anymore.

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    1. Kate, you’re right about all the pops and flashes. What I saw was a mess, offensive to me because the information wasn’t presented clearly. I hadn’t thought of this in terms of generational preferences, but that might explain it. 🤔

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  6. My pet peeve: shopping on Amazon, reading the descriptions of the product and immediately finding misspelled words or clear grammar issues. I typically seek out another product. Why should I trust the seller to send a decent product when they can’t manage to write effectively or correctly.

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    1. Deb, EXACTLY! My thoughts about these companies, too. I don’t trust them: if words mean so little to them, then why would I think that their product was any good? Answer? I don’t.

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  7. Years ago, WIRED Magazine was utterly unreadable because of the brightly colored fonts on a shocking background. I guess someone thought it was “disruptive”, they should have focused on usable first.

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    1. Almost Iowa, usable first, disruptive later. I like that thinking. However currently it might be that clarity in communication is in and of itself disruptive. 🙄

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  8. You are not alone here. We have similar backgrounds, you and I, and that would bother me, but I would move along. Not my circus, not my monkeys started coming out of my mouth (frequently) a few years ago when I first heard that saying. I do believe I’m saying it more and more these days, but I digress. I’m with you — do nothing unless it really matters (and so few things do!).

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    1. Tara, the thing is [and I’m sure you’ll get this] that I am by nature a kind-hearted problem solver who likes to help people make things better in their lives. HOWEVER, I no longer make any assumptions that other people want to make things better in their lives. This, of course, does not mean that I’m not muttering about what I see that is wrong, just that I’m not inclined to get involved anymore. Case in point.

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      1. I hear ya. I reached that point several years ago, thankfully. Of course, all the muttering may think some think I’m a bit nutty, what with talking to myself and all. 🙂

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  9. It’s as the saying goes, “Any attention is better than no attention.” As a classroom teacher I saw this in action; some students would act out for this reason. You remembered the ad perfectly and that was their aim, in my opinion. Perhaps they think that you will subliminally support their product due to that recognition, although you hated their ad.

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    1. Margaret, your classroom analogy is an apt one. Zen-Den said something similar to what you said here. They captured my attention and they don’t care that it’s because of something negative. It’s all about getting the eyeballs on them, the reason why I noticed them does not matter to them. BUT me being me, I will remember and not get involved with them again… although I think you’re onto something valid here. 🤨

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  10. Forgive me if I am politically incorrect here but could it have originated from another country perhaps? I instantly think spam and virus when I come across something that is so off. Being a transcriptionist, reading things that are spelled incorrectly gets me too.

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  11. I cringe also, Ally. I worry about our future written interactions when so many people take the same shortcuts with business writing that they do with their private text messaging.

    On a related matter, it drives me crazy to hear (mostly young) people now start each sentence with “So…” I don’t understand the usage other than it being lazy. And then there are (sadly, mostly young women, I’ve noticed) who give public talks and end each sentence with what appears to be a question. Both lack confidence and clarity. – Marty

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    1. Marty, you’re right in that the writing on this webpage was more like a private text than something polished. And the images were such a muddled mess. No forethought there.

      Word choices are a way of telling people who you are. Maybe those people who overuse “so…” or turn declarative sentences into questions are doing us a favor. We can see their lack of confidence on display in front of us– and take note. 🤨

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  12. Sometimes I think that people need to be licensed to be able to operate fonts (size, shape, color) beyond basic Helvetica or Times Roman. Just because there are a lot of choices doesn’t mean that you have to use every one of them. I feel the same about photo editing software. Too many simply OK images have been colorized, textured, and sharpened beyond reason. I was also a marketing/communications professional before retirement and I have always felt that clean, clear design and copy (preferably correctly spelled) is the most impactful. Good rant!

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    1. Janis, you made me chuckle. I like your idea of being licensed to use fonts. I am exceedingly careful whenever I get near them, not wanting to make things look messy. But not everyone believes that, I guess. I’m with you in that I prefer clean design, a limited color palette– and images that have something to do with the copy. Is that too much to ask? 😣

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  13. I commiserate with you on this. As someone who still does this kind of work for a living, and deals with it in two languages, I know just how hard it is to tolerate crappy marketing.
    It drives me nuts too; as in “Argh, this is so easy to fix!” But some companies and owners are so cheap, and so shortsighted, they think that any dollar saved ends up back in their pocket. They rarely see all the lost sales due to confusing/incomprehensible info. I always say: A potential customer who is scratching their head is never going to be reaching for their wallet or credit card.

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    1. Norm, you said it with: “confusing/incomprehensible info.” I eventually found what I needed to know, but the fact that I had search for it made me grumpy. And then the weird logo/images made my eyes cross.

      I have no doubt that cheap owners don’t understand the need for clarity and that they don’t understand the lost dollars as confused customers wander away from their businesses all because their marketing campaign was schlock.

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      1. It might just be that they’re waiting on someone like you to point out the error of their ways. Maybe they’ll hire you. You’d be doing them a big favor by speaking up. Anyway, something to think about.

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    1. nancy, that’s exactly the situation, isn’t it? The webpage was a visual mess and poorly written, and all I can wonder is how did it get put online. Who thought this was acceptable?

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  14. I agree with you too Ally – aim high or go home. If you can’t spin out a good website yourself, don’t compromise and instead spend the $$ to get it done by a professional. I think a lot of businesses are relying on Facebook’s platform, so they tend to think their company’s more casual site at FB can carry over to a formal website and it cannot.

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    1. linda, that’s a good insight into how some companies think and behave. You’re right, FB is an informal place and this website could well have been how they do things there. All I know is I was put off by it and thought it’ll be a cold day in heck before I get involved with this group. ☹️

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  15. While I can’t claim the same background as you do, I did have to/still have to do my share of proof-reading for leisure and work. And I hope that my free Grammarly app picks up on some of my grammar goofs. So yeah, I agree with you!

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    1. Shelley, I can overlook a friend or family member’s grammar or spelling mistake. No problem. I’m not a fuss budget, nor am I perfect. BUT when it comes to a business online attempting to sell me something, the copy and images had better be perfect. Just saying…

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  16. You’re not the only one, Ally. I cringe whenever I see typos on large signs or whenever someone makes a viral video in which that person has misused, mispronounced, or misspelled words.

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    1. L. Marie, I hadn’t thought of those billboards with the mistakes on them. I see them, too, and do not like them. On twitter I often see a misused/misspelled word, but I’m never sure if it’s the person writing the tweet or that pushy autocorrect that always knows what’s best! Trying thymes, indeed. 😉

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  17. This is an interesting time when some younger people are not that interested in good English and some of us are so vintage we remember diagramming sentences. But, then you throw in the various autocorrects that change words as you’re typing and even those of us who try sometimes find ourselves with writing that makes no sense. 🙂 Sometimes in writing to family I mention ‘Gorham’ because it is a town we have family from, but it always changes to Gotham. If I don’t notice it, off it goes, and all I can think about is there are definitely no super heroes involved. 🙂 If I see a company website that is a mess, I would be inclined to think their product might be also. A local NH company has a terrific product that I love and use, but their Instagram account absolutely turned me off. I debated and finally sent her a private email expressing my concerns. She accepted the feedback and asked me for suggestions which I gave. She has upped her game tremendously, and I’ve told her that someday not too far in the future, I’ll be saying I knew her when. 🙂

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    1. Judy, I know how you feel about the autocorrect situation. Mistakes happen. I’ve made goofy mistakes for the same reason as you have. I don’t ever judge personal correspondence or conversations [or blog comments] in the way that I do business/professional exchanges.

      Your story about helping the local company is inspiring. I’m glad that your help was received in the positive way in which it was intended. In my experience people/companies that are less than vigilant about their written communication are disinclined to want to make it better, but your story proves me wrong. And that makes me happy.

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  18. It’s just so sad. Whether the writer is too dependent on auto correct/spell check to catch errors, doesn’t see that details are very important when creating image and company, just careless, sloppy (and “they know what I mean, so no problem”) or just ignorant from lack of good teaching or lack of care to learn when there’s a chance – it’s just sad.
    So many would be so defensive and angry if you offered suggestions now, it’s simply not worth it (but forget me using their services/product)

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    1. philmouse, careless and sloppy are the thoughts that came to me when I saw this webpage. You said it. And I also agree that my well-meaning attempts to help this group create a more professional image would be dismissed. If they don’t care about how they are perceived now, then I have no reason to believe they’ll care about what I have to say. Sad is right.

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  19. I find poorly proofread text very annoying – that said, when a marketing campaign contains errors that seem intentional I often try to figure out why the company thought that it was a good marketing strategy.

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    1. Sheryl, I do the same thing. At first, giving this group the benefit of the doubt, I tried to understand what was going on. But I realized that it was just another example of mediocrity, not anything notable. Made me sad, truth be told.

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  20. as you know – we pick our battles – and energy expended should be considered –
    and I wonder if they would even be open to feedback anyhow – sometimes those behind such marketing do not even “get” what you would try to explain

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    1. Prior…, you’re right. In all that you said. I doubt that my feedback would have been seen as helpful. I no longer have the extra energy to expend on such things. I wish them well, but I’ll just be moseying along now.

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  21. Poorly designed websites are an automatic NOPE in regards to getting my business. A bad website can be worse than no website in my opinion.

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    1. Katie, that’s how I think about it, too. It’s not like this group was the only source for what I was looking for, so I left and went elsewhere. I usually let such things slide, but this time I felt like writing [complaining?] about it, so I did.

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  22. Yeah, I’m with you on this. When I worked as an editor for a publishing company, I couldn’t help but find typos and grammatical errors *everywhere*–storefront signs, menus, pamphlets, etc. And I used to get so riled up about the fact that companies were okay with that! But then I realized that few people pay attention to that kind of detail because their focus is on something else entirely.

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    1. Kate, yes, you are so right. I cannot help but see the mistakes about 98% of the time. However most people don’t even notice them, and feel threatened or baffled when you show them what’s wrong. Hence I no longer get involved, unless it’s a good friend who’s made a glaring mistake. Then I might say something.

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